Getting rid of ‘o fok hopies’. (How to stay focussed on the job at hand.)

When I did my articles an attorney introduced me to the concept of ‘o fok hopies’. You know – those piles of papers that you stack every where and every time you look at those you think, “O !@#!” And you take them and move them and take other little piles that are usually more satisfying to work on.

A strange phenomena happens to the ‘o fok hopies’ – they get babies. And before you know what hits you, they are everywhere. On the floor, on all four corners of your desk, in the kitchen sink, in the laundry, on your bedroom floor.

I loved saying that only organised minds can function in a chaotic environment. You know what – I was wrong. I really do function better in a neat and tidy environment. It is just so very, very difficult for me to keep my environment neat and tidy. I think the myth of multitasking contributes to us losing focus. It is not really possible to truly multitask at all times and get a whole lot done.

I remember when I was writing training manuals I would go and work at home (pre children and pre SAHM {stay-at-home-mum} phase). I would plant my behind on a chair and work for 8 hours straight with the odd break for coffee and toilet and possibly some lunch, but I would turn our 60-100 page manuals in a day or three. I focussed and I got things done!

My husband has this knack for creating order from chaos. (Big guilt trip time for me, because I am the main cause of his chaos at home.) I asked him how it is that he has this ability to just make it happen. And his answer, “Pretty easy actually, I just do not allow myself to get distracted.” So easy and yet soooooo incredibly difficult!

So, how do you keep focussed and not get distracted at work or even at home while doing the house work?

Make it fun – hmmm how do you make washing dishes fun? Take a cue from Nataniël and put on an opera and perform while you suds up. Or put on some wicked heels if you are a lady, if you are a gent and you like heels – hey by all means. Moral of the story – have an attitude of having fun while doing it. Something that I remember with those little piles was to tackle (rugby talk may just do the trick?) the un-fun things first and get them out of the way so that I could concentrate on the fun things. Go with the mantra, First work then play.
Get a chair and a table that is conducive to a good posture. Some people find standing easier. Posh Spice walks is mile high stilettos on a treadmill while she is typing/designing away. A bit extreme, but you get my drift.

Get rid of your ‘o fok hopies’. Deal with it and get it away from your work area. They drain your energy. They make you want to eat chocolates by the kilogram and that is JUST NOT GOOD FOR YOU. Coffee and chocolates are a wonderful combination but too much is too much. Get your work station neat and tidy so that you can focus on the job at hand and not be reminded of the myriad of other things that you still need to do.

Make your computer distraction-free. That goes for your phone as well. I took the internet browser and Facebook off my phone. My Ipad is next. Senseless browsing and voyeurism is stealing your life and it is draining your concentration abilities. Believe me! We have difficulty focusing on single tasks at hand because we are bombarded with snippets of useless and irrelevant information that makes us wonder if our lives are worth living. Stop Facebooking and go get a life that you can live. (Says the one who is struggling with this!)

Drink water. What? Have your bottle close by. Drink it often, but not so often that you have to ‘go’ every five minutes. Water helps to refresh you. Hmmm… who knew. Just think about how good you feel when you step out of a shower. Makes sense.

Eat healthy food that will not let you ride an energy rollercoaster. (I am not a nutritionist – read up on healthy snacks.)

Have a to-do list with not more than 7 to-do’s on it. Your job is your job, that is not a ‘to do’. But there are certain things over aan above the normal run of the mill priorities that need to get done. That is what you write on your to-do list.

Stephen Covey has a brilliant four quadrant system on how to prioritise things. Copyright prohibits me from putting a copy from the page. But please google it, and make sure you understand those four quadrants – it changed my life once. (I think it is time that I go and re-visit my course on time management again. I know it works – I just need to keep implementing the stuff.)

Communicate your personal working system with others. People pleasing may contribute to us being surrounded by chaos because we take on other people’s monkeys. Not my circus not my monkeys.

Cut out the noise if you can.

Sometimes you do not need to answer all calls, do not have to talk to every one. Sometimes you need to get away from it and get to a place where you can focus.

Keep your work emails and your private emails separate. I was told by someone whose team had gone through redundancies that the manager had to redirect emails to his mail for a while to make sure that all business related emails were attended to. Big was his surprise when dating site emails started coming through to his email. Some of the people who were made redundant forgot the cancel their newsletter and notifications to the websites. Remember WORK EMAIL IS FOR WORK, not to get lucky.

Work phones are for work.

Choose your music wisely if you listen to it while working. Know what works for you, but make sure you and only you can hear it, heavy metal may not be your neighbours choice of poison.

It is as easy as not getting distracted. And you have to ask yourself the question if you are getting any unconscious pay-off/kick-back by being surrounded by chaos. Now that is a discussion for another day.

Do you see your little ‘o fok hopie’? Go and sort it now.

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